Start Guide
A quick guide to using Bidwatcher

(this is a work in progress)

1. Overview

This is a brief guide to using Bidwatcher on both Un*x and win32 platforms. It is assumed that the program is properly installed and you have a valid account with eBay. For information on installing Bidwatcher refer to the INSTALL file that came with your distribution. I should note that there are slight differences between the Un*x and Win32 versions, and the document assumes you are using the Un*x version. I will note differences where they exist.

2. For the impatient

Start the program and open the configuration window (press the button that looks like a drivers license). At a minimum you'll at least want to enter your eBay username here. If you plan on using the bidding or email lookup features you'll also need to provide your eBay password. See the 'Configure Bidwatcher' section below for more on what to do here. Once this is done, and you're connected to the internet, you are ready to roll. Ebay will pull a list of all items you have outstanding bids on and your ebay listings. This list is updated with varying frequency depending on the time left in the auction (auctions with less time remaining are updated more often). Right-clicking an item on the list produces popup menu of operations you can perform. For a description of all the programs functionality, read on.

3. Configure Bidwatcher

For Bidwatcher to do something beyond displaying the current time in San Francisco, you need to configure it to do something. Pressing the configuration button (the one that looks like a drivers license) should produce the configuration window with the following fields:
Enter User ID: - Your eBay username, this field is required to do anything useful with Bidwatcher.
Enter Password: - Your eBay password. You only need to enter this if you plan to use the bidding, sniping, or email lookup facilities in Bidwatcher. Paranoids can leave this field blank.
Path to Web Browser (Linux only): - this is the path to your browser of choice (I use xterm -e lynx), by default set to netscape. Win32 versions use the registry to find your default browser.
Path to Email Client (Linux only): - path to your email client. By default set to 'xterm -e pine'. Win32 versions use the registry to find your default emailer.
Track my eBay Listings: - if this is checked, Bidwatcher will automatically track auctions that you have listed on ebay.
Track current bids: - if this is checked, Bidwatcher will track all active auctions that you have bid on, whether or not you are the current high bidder.
Notify me when an auction is over: - Bidwatcher will play a chime every 60 seconds if an auction is in it's last 1/2 hour (only implemented on Win32 version).
Check auctions on startup: - if this is checked, Bidwatcher will updated your current bids/listings and update all auctions immediately when the program is started, otherwise it will begin updates on it's regular cycle.
Automatically delete ended auctions: Bidwatcher will delete ended auctions when it comes across one. Some people want to see the results of the auction before it is deleted, so this option is offered.
Snipe Timer: - the number of seconds before an auction ends that your snipe bid will be executed.

3. What's going on?

Once Bidwatcher is properly configured, it more or less runs on 'autopilot', updating bid information on your auction list, checking eBay for new auctions you have placed, and executing snipes you may have set up. The best way to describe what gets updated when is to introduce the timers. There are three timers that execute actions at 1 second, 1 minute, and 40 minute intervals. Here's a breakdown of their functions:
1 second timer: - Updates the clock and checks the snipe queue to see if there is a snipe to be executed.
1 minute timer: - Updates all items on the list with less than 4 hours remaining and deletes any auctions that ended more than an hour ago if you have Bidwatcher configured to auto-delete auctions.
40 minute timer: - Checks eBay for any new auctions you have placed and items you have bid on, updates all items on the list and deletes auctions that ended more than an hour ago.
So, all auctions will be updated at least once every 40 minutes, and once a minute if they are in their final 4 hours.

4. Bidding / Sniping

Right clicking an item on the auction list and choosing 'bid / set up snipe' opens the bid window. From here you can set up a snipe (a bid that is executed a prescribed number of seconds before the auction ends), or bid on the item immediately. The window shows some information on the auction, and a countdown timer that shows the time remaining in real time. WARNING - placing a bid here is the same as pressing the 'confirm bid' button at ebay, and your are entering a binding commitment per their rules. I've made evory effort to make sure this works reliably - but if you are worried that Bidwatcher will handle this incorrectly by all means don't do it!

A few words on sniping: - A snipe is a bid set up to execute a few moments before the end of an auction. In theory this is to keep the price of the auction low in the early stages of the auction - In practice, this probably only works reliably if _everyone_ is using a snipe tool (or at least waits till the final moments of the auction to place their bid). Bidwatcher was not originally set out to do snipes (hence the name is not bidsniper, snipewatcher, whatever), but sniping was added due to many requests for it. I use it for the reason sited above (I think it does give you a _slight_ advantage), and also as a way to bid on items I might otherwise forget about. Sniping is in no way guaranteed win - use it at your own risk, and if you _really_ need to win an auction - do it manually. Ebay's service (and the web in general) is just too unreliable to automate this 100%.

Site design based on original design by Trent McNair